Save Our Heritage Organisation v. City of San Diego

Project proponent cannot recover private attorney general fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 because plaintiff did not act contrary to the public interest in bringing the unsuccessful suit alleging violation of various environmental protection laws. Following Adoption of Joshua S. (2008) 42 Cal.4th 945, this decision denies a private attorney general fee award…

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger

Exercising its inherent power, a federal court may award attorney fees as a sanction; however, unless criminal contempt procedures are followed, the sanction cannot exceed the amount of attorney fees the opposing party would not have incurred but for the sanctionable conduct.  Federal courts have inherent power to sanction parties or their attorneys for conduct…

Irvine Unified School Dist. v. K.G.

Minor who prevailed on administrative action to assure his right to a free and appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was considered a prevailing party for purposes of subsequent lawsuit filed by school district which sought to force other public entities to pay for his education.  After KG was released from juvenile…

Walent v. Commission on Professional Competence

Unless it expressly provides otherwise, a statute granting a right to an attorney fee award contemplates a fee calculated by the lodestar method, whether or not the party seeking the fee award was personally liable to pay the attorney.  Unless it otherwise provides, a statute granting a right to an attorney fee award contemplates a…

Gonzalez v. Santa Clara County Department of Social Services

The trial court abused its discretion in denying fees to three of plaintiff’s four lawyers because their time records were not properly authenticated, an objection the defendant did not raise.  The trial court abused its discretion in refusing to award any attorney fees to three of the four lawyers who successively represented plaintiff in her…

Leighton v. Forster

Since a non-contingent contract for attorney fees between a lawyer and client must be in writing and signed by both parties in order to be enforceable, agreement which client never executed was not enforceable, and the statute of limitations had already passed on a quantum meruit action by the lawyer.  Under B&P Code 6148, a…

Gonzales v. Carmax Auto Superstores, LLC

If a plaintiff seeks only injunctive relief and prevails, he can recover attorney fees under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act despite not having given the notice and opportunity for cure which the Act requires before the plaintiff may recover damages.  Benson v. Southern Cal. Auto Sales (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1198 held that notice and an…

Khan v. Shim

When a contract’ attorney fee clause is broad enough to cover tort as well as contract claims, the defendant is the prevailing party entitled to a fee award on the tort, but not the contract, claims when the plaintiff voluntarily dismisses the action before trial.  Under Civ. Code § 1717(b)(2), there is no prevailing party…

Millview County Water Dist. v. State Water Resources Control Bd.

In a suit seeking to overturn a state regulatory body’s cease-and-desist order that was preventing purchase of water rights, plaintiff water district was not entitled to a fee award under the Private Attorney General Act because its own financial interest in completing the purchase contract—broadly construed—far exceeded the amount it spent on attorney fees.  For…

Goglin v. BMW of North America, LLC

Plaintiff reasonably rejected earlier settlement offers requiring general releases and nondisclosure agreements and so was properly awarded her attorney fees under the Song-Beverly Warranty Act after agreeing to a settlement lacking those provisions.  The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $185,000 in attorney fees under the Song-Beverly Act after the case finally…

SunEarth, Inc. v. Sun Earth Solar Power Co., Ltd.

In ruling on a motion for attorney fees under the Lanham Act, the district court is free to exercise its discretion in examining the totality of the circumstances to decide if the case is exceptional, including whether the suit or prelitigation conduct was frivolous, ill-motivated or objectively unreasonable.  Like the Patent Act, the Lanham Act…

City of San Diego v. San Diegans for Open Government

A corporation and its lawyer behaved unethically in answering a city’s validation action when both knew the corporation was suspended for non-payment of state taxes; hence, they were properly denied a private attorney general fee award despite prevailing in the action.  A corporation suspended for non-payment of taxes answered a validation action filed by the…